The best-selling work of fiction isn’t Harry Potter.
As of 2011, the Harry Potter series of books is believed to have sold in the region of 450 million, but on an individual basis, none of them come close to Charles Dicken’s, A Tale of Two Cities, which has sold over 200 million copies since 1859.
The only work of fiction that comes close – and may yet surpass Dicken’s tale – is J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings. Although frequently sold as a series of three books it was originally intended by the author to be published as a single tome. Despite being published almost 100 years after A Tale of Two Cities, it has already reached 150 million sales.
Wikipedia: List of Best-Selling Works
Nanotechnology, the ability to manipulate matter on a molecular and atomic scale, is becoming increasingly sophisticated. In 2007, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology successfully printed the entire Old Testament onto a silicon chip the size of a pin head.
This achievement was made by firing Gallium ions onto a gold-plated silicon chip. The stream of ions etched away the gold just like a stream of water washes away dirt – but with unfathomable precision. Although the software that guided the process took three months to program, the actual “writing” took just an hour and a half.
MaterialsGate: The Entire Old Testament in Hebrew on a Pin Head
If you thought James Cameron’s, Titanic was a long movie, then try sitting through a film that lasts 162 hours. Cinématon, made up of 2432 silent vignettes, is an experimental film that took 33 years to compose. Although you’re unlikely to catch it at your local multiplex, it has been shown in its entirety in France and the US.
Owning the record for longest movie of all time was probably not the goal of Cinématon’s director, Gérard Courant, which is just as well given that it lost this accolade in 2011 to “Modern Times Forever,” a 240-hour movie demonstrating the effect of millennia of decay on modern architecture.
Wikipedia: List of Longest Running Films
If you ask someone to name the very first videogame, they might mention Pac-Man (1980), Space Invaders (1978), or maybe even Pong (1972). But to find the granddaddy of them all, you have to go back another 20 years.
If you define a videogame as a computer program that sends signals to a television or monitor, then the accolade goes to A.S. Douglas who created a Tic-Tac-Toe game while studying for his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1952. Designed to run on an EDSAC vacuum-tube computer, the game displayed on a 35×16 pixel display and was sophisticated enough to beat most human opponents.
Wikipedia: First Video Game
The idea of the gun-toting American is a little cliche, but a 2007 study demonstrates that this stereotype is firmly based in fact. Of the estimated 875 million firearms that exist in the world, almost a third are owned by US citizens. This can partly be attributed to the country’s size and relative affluence, but viewed as a ratio, there are still 90 guns for every 100 citizens — making it the most heavily armed society in the world.
The closest per-capita gun ownership to the US is Yemen – 61 firearms for every 100 citizens – closely followed by Finland, and then Switzerland. Perhaps the most worrying statistic is that, worldwide, only 12% of firearms are registered with the authorities.
Reuters: U.S. Most Armed Country
In 2007 in Illinois, 10-month old Bubba Ludwig was gifted a shotgun as a family heirloom. The baby’s family, perhaps wanting to ensure that they were not breaking any laws, applied for a gun license on Bubba’s behalf . . . and succeeded. Bubba’s license includes a recent baby photo and a squiggle that purports to be a signature, but could just as easily be a cry for help.
Bubba’s gun license application was originally refused, but only because his father had forgotten to check the box that confirmed his son was a US citizen.
BBC News: Illinois Baby Obtains Gun Permit
Many believe that cosmetic surgery is as natural as getting a haircut. Others claim that cosmetic surgery has gone too far. You can determine on which side of the argument you fall by measuring your reaction to Neuticles®.
As suggested by its trademark name, Neuticles are testicular implants designed for pets that have been neutered. Manufactured from solid silicone, Neuticles restores the animal to “anatomical preciseness.” If you don’t have a pet that you can sign up for the procedure, you can show your support by purchasing various items of jewelry containing a genuine Neuticle. You can also learn more about the inventor of the product, Gregg A. Miller, in his book, “Going . . . Going . . .Nuts!”
If you travel to Ethiopia and pick up a newspaper, you might be shocked to discover that you’ve apparently gone back in time — by about eight years! Relax; that taxi cab you took wasn’t a DeLorean. You’re simply in a part of the world that doesn’t use the Gregorian calendar system. Ethiopia – as well as the Eritrean Orthodox Church in Eritrea – uses the Ge’ez calendar, which is based on the ancient Coptic calendar.
The Ethiopian calendar begins in September, and consists of 12 months of 30 days each, followed by a thirteenth month of just five days (or six days in a leap year). The 7-8 year variation between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars is due to a difference in calculation of the Annunciation of Jesus Christ.
Wikipedia: Ethiopian Calendar
Although we may think of the electric car as being a modern invention, it actually flourished in the 19th century. For a considerable period, electric cars were more popular than the internal combustion engine equivalent; they were quieter, vibrated less, produced no exhaust fumes, did not require tricky gear changes, and didn’t require a hand crank to start the engine.
The gradual shift away from electric cars began when road infrastructure improved, making the limited range of an electric car more noticeable. Inventions such as the electric starter and the muffler also helped the gasoline car to gain ground. The final nail in the coffin of the electric car’s popularity occurred when Henry Ford developed a method for the mass product of gasoline-powered vehicles that greatly reduced their price, and thus increased their commercial viability.
Wikipedia: History of the Electric Vehicle
If you have ever lived in a daylight savings area, you probably rejoice for that extra hour in bed, or maybe wince when it is taken away. However, you may have completely missed the fact that over the last 30 years you’ve also been granted an extra 15 seconds without any subsequent reversal.
This effect is a result of the “leap second,” a one-second adjustment that is occasionally made to compensate for the minor changes in the earth’s rotation. In theory, a negative leap second could occur, but it has yet to do so. 15 leap seconds have been made since 1980 and although it isn’t yet known when the next one will occur, historically they take place, on average, every 18 months.
Wikipedia: Leap Second